Slicing it Right Into the Entanglement Hazard

ZapperZ has a takedown of an article that purports to apply QM to golf; the critique is Quantum Physics And ….. Golf?!

He addresses each point but I think he misses one important aspect of the first issue, on entanglement. Creating and maintaining entanglement isn’t easy, but more importantly, there’s the ol’ bugaboo

Entanglement might one day allow us to communicate instantaneously across the light-years of distance between stars. But for golfers, entanglement offers a more practical benefit.

I have watched golfers tee off and then twist and bend their bodies as they follow the flight of their ball, trying to influence the ball’s course through the air. It doesn’t work, of course.

But if the golfer and the ball could somehow be entangled, then every movement the golfer makes would instantly have an effect on the golf ball. The golfer could literally steer the ball in midair.

The body English would work!

No, no, no; a thousand times no. Entanglement does not allow for instantaneous communication and does not allow you to influence distant objects. Entanglement allows you to do one measurement and determine the states of two particles, with one particle possibly being far away — it does not enable you to change that state.

A Different Pitch Experiment

Challenging Batters and Physics Experts Alike

The conflict was this: A split-finger is usually gripped to reduce backspin on the ball because backspin prevents the ball from dropping. The typical Magnus effect on the ball will tilt it slightly in toward a hitter.

“But the particular pitch that was unusual broke away from a right-handed hitter,” Nathan said.

Stumped, Nathan sent the video to the physicist Rod Cross at the University of Sydney in Australia. Cross performed several tests — often using polystyrene balls for better movement — and came up with what he views as a plausible theory. He published his findings in an article in the American Journal of Physics in January.

The Basketball Kama Sutra

Analytics Reveal 13 New Basketball Positions

For as long as basketball has been played, it’s been played with five positions. Today they are point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. A California data geek sees 13 more hidden among them, with the power to help even the Charlotte Bobcats improve their lineup and win more games.

I think it has been long recognized that within any position you can have more of an offensive/defensive prowess, and that there are hybrid positions, regardless of what label you put on them. I’m also not close to being sold on NBA 1st team/2nd team, role-player or one-of-a-kind being a position. (Hey, I’m won the starting job at NBA All-Star on my team!) I think these are ways of categorizing the productivity of players, i.e their roles, rather than defining the position they play. You need a player or players with ball-handling skills, you need ball distribution, you need rebounding, you need scoring ability (interior and perimeter and also free throws), you need defense. How you divvy up those needed skills isn’t fixed, though some pairings might work better than others. This breakdown seems to imply that good players excel at a couple of skills (and the best at even more), or are somewhat less adept at each but possess a wider range of skills, and those pairings/groupings are given.

Now what would be really interesting would be looking at the depth and breadth of coverage of these roles as a function of the teams’ success. The diversity and output of the Mavericks that is shown — does that represent their success as well? Would a cellar-dwellar have the same breadth but simply be at a lower level of achievement, or do they suffer from not having some skill-set combination (e.g. single-skill players, rather than dual-skill), or both?

Here's the Antidote

All too often the peripheral sports stories we hear or read — the ones that aren’t game summaries — are about people (or organizations) behaving badly. This is one of the exceptions: When There’s More To Winning Than Winning

When last we left the NCAA, it was February madness, colleges were jumping conferences, suing each other, coaches were claiming rivals had cheated in recruiting — the usual nobility of college sports.

And then, in the midst of all this, the men’s basketball team at Washington College of Chestertown, Md., journeyed to Pennsylvania to play Gettysburg College in a Division III Centennial Conference game.

Another story from a few years back, cut from the same cloth.

Pay No Attention to the Eye in the Sky

The Footage the NFL Won’t Show You

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith’s throw was “placed perfectly” and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was “a little bit late getting there.”

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program “NFL Matchup,” who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn’t late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

I don’t need All-22 to know that announcers are talking crap. Just hearing them say, “Let’s see if they were drawn offsides” is enough to do that — false start penalties kill the play. If there’s no whistle, there’s no false start, and they should know this. What I suspect is that one would immediately know the slew of “He ran the pattern too short” comments, heard when a player runs an underneath route (e.g. 8 yard pattern on 3rd-and-10) would be shown to be crap as well. The film would likely show that a deeper route would have been covered, and the only way to be open was to run underneath. Sometimes you have to break a tackle or make a man miss.

As for the possibility of more criticism of coaches and players, I don’t care. Rumor has it that they’re adults. Maybe the fans will understand that part of the plan is to fake the other side out and appreciate the nuances of trying to dictate your opponent’s response tactics.


September Collapse of Red Sox Could Be Worst Ever

There are different ways to measure the magnitude of pennant race collapses. One approach, which I’ve used in the past, is to calculate a team’s playoff probability after every game of the season, and to see which team had the highest probability of making the playoffs but failed to do so.

By that standard, the Red Sox collapse — if it comes to fruition — might rank as high as the second or third worst of all time, rivaling that of the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 2007 New York Mets. It wouldn’t be quite as bad, however, as that of the 1995 California Angels, who had in excess of a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs on Aug. 20, 1995, when they held a 9-and-a-half-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the A.L. West, and were 12 games ahead of the Yankees for the wild card, but missed the playoffs after finishing their year 12-26.

Not the worst-case, since they won on Tuesday, but still pretty epic. Especially delicious because I’m a Yankees fan.

Update: And they’re well aware of the proportions of the collapse

“It shouldn’t have been this way. We were 7-20 in September. We go 9-18, we’re where we want to be. Nine and 18 is winning one-third of your games. The worst teams in baseball win one-third of their games. There’s no excuse. We did this to ourselves.”